It is very important to me that adults better understand how important it is to pay attention to their children’s journey into adulthood. It is a long journey with many different stages and many different challenges along the way.
September is a good time to remember the part of the journey that can be one of the most challenging stages of the process, namely leaving home and starting college. For many, it is the first time a child will have spent any significant time away from home. Independent from parents. Independent from rules. Thrown into a huge bucket of peer pressure. It is a time fraught with new challenges, adventures, transitions, ideas, and influences. Many students do fine, but a significant number of students struggle with all this new stimulation coming at one time. They are presented with a “perfect storm” of challenges and the new experience of independent decision-making. It is not unusual that by November the number of new challenges and a student’s inability to balance these challenges can be overwhelming to a college freshman (as well as upper-class students as well), who then begin to fall apart and need help coping with depression and anxiety.
From a distance (remember that most of these kids are away at college), we, the adults in their lives, need to be vigilant and listen to the tone of our children’s voices and words that they use. If we hear anything that causes concern, we need to encourage our kids to seek help. If there is the slightest concern about their mental health., we need to encourage our kids to seek help.
If, after listening to and having conversations one-on-one with your child, you are still concerned about his/her/their well-being, then you need to take a next step. For me that would be to find out more about the school’s mental health resources, and reach out to the people connected to those resources for guidance. For many students, as with the population in general, the stigma of seeking mental health treatment from a counseling center is intimidating. It is important to emphasize that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
However, if going to the college mental health center is uncomfortable for your child, there are other resources that are available today outside of that brick-and-mortar health center. One that is gaining momentum is telemedicine (you can simply google online mental health resources and you will find a whole list of resources). Or you can connect with a therapist who you may know or has been recommended to you and see if that therapist will meet with your child by Zoom or FaceTime.
We want our kids to be happy, and reaching that goal is not often easy. We need to use all available resources in order to help our kids during the times that are so difficult.
Below is a list that I found on a website called “timely MD.“ I would like to share it with you, and perhaps you can share it with your child before he/she/they leaves for school. Hand it to them, slip it into their suitcase, sit down and discuss it. Whatever works.
Ways that college students can manage mental health
- Take care of health and well-being. …
- Time management. …
- Keep track of mental health concerns. …
- Surround yourself with good people (even if it’s virtually) …
- Practice mindfulness. …
- Avoid drug and alcohol use. …
- Find ways to get involved. …
- Utilize mental health services.
(If you go to the website, each of these points is discussed further.)
These are a few resources that are in United States and Britain. There are resources around the world
National Alliance of Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
2 thoughts on “Off to College”
Thanks for reading. I am glad the list was helpful.
Thanks for the list! Very helpful. And the ability to work with someone virtually can be a real game changer for those who may not have access to someone (or someone good) without it.